Elle lost everything except for the mother she has never known.
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Elle slipped a picture into the photo album. If it weren't for her, her family wouldn't have quite as many pictures.
She picked up a picture of her oldest brother Sam and his girlfriend Alicia. Sam was tall and muscular. Sadly though, his athletic abilities were wasted after the age of thirteen on cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.
His year-younger sister Alyzabeth soon followed in his footsteps. Now she was sixteen and barely passing the eleventh grade.
13-year-old Justin was also out of control. That left just half of them being "good kids".
Elle herself had a 4.3 grade point average. She'd never touched a cigarette, never drank alcohol, and never even thought about doing pot or any other kind or drugs.
Bailey was the only boy that wasn't off the handle. Then again, he was only twelve. He made descent grades, but he was not very active in anything.
Phoebe hardly counted as good or bad, being only nine-months-old. But having 15-year-old Elle as a second mother meant she'd probably do great in life.
Sheridan Carter wasn't a neglectful mother, just a busy mother. Her and her husband, Drake, were both doctors.
Elle was actually a product of a separation between the two for a short period. She hardly ever saw her biological mother, but Sheridan had happily accepted her as her own.
Elle slipped the last picture into the photo album.
"Elle!" Sheridan called from the hall. "Danielle, are you ready yet?"
"Coming, Mom!" Elle closed the photo album and put it on her dresser. She looked at herself in the mirror.
Auburn hair flowed to the middle of her back. Her big green eyes practically sparkled.
That was what really separated her from the rest of her family. Her looks. She was the spitting image of her mother, while all her brothers and sisters were blondes and light browns.
Elle opened her bedroom door and walked out into the living room. Her mom and dad were sitting on the couch waiting for her.
Mariah, the college student baby-sitting Phoebe was content with playing with the baby on the floor.
All the other children, including Bailey, had wriggled their way out of the dinner.
The dinner was at some fancy restaurant with some fancy-rich doctors and their spouses and whatever children they had or dragged there. Elle was normally the only child who her parents took to the fancy dinners.
She was like some sort of "prize". The good, beautiful, intelligent daughter of Dr. Sheridan Carter and Dr. Drake Carter.
"Well, don't you look lovely, Elle." Drake smiled.
"You do look cute." Mariah agreed on the floor. Mariah always baby-sat Phoebe if Elle couldn't. Normally Elle couldn't baby-sit Phoebe only when at a dinner or party or school event.
"Well, we better be going. We don't want to be late," Sheridan said. She bent over to Phoebe and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "Good-bye, my little love. Be good for Mariah, darling."
"Bye, kiddo." Drake said as he walked out arm-in-arm with his wife.
"Have fun with her. Don't let her con you into letting her stay up late. She might not be able to talk yet, but she's good." Elle smiled.
"I know." Mariah smiled back.
"Bye." Elle walked out the door and climbed into the silver Lexus RX-300. "Who are we having dinner with again?"
"The Carrigans. Haven't we told you that atleast five times now?" Sheridan answered, slightly annoyed. Not exactly at Elle, it was just that Elle was getting the wrath of it. As usual.
"Yes, I am sorry."
"Oh, it is fine. I'm sorry, Elle. After the little incident with your sister last night..."
"Yeah." Elle licked her lips. Thinking of Alyzabeth now just made her sad. She wasn't the same person that Elle had used to look up to. Not the girl Elle had dreamed of being. Not the sister Elle had bragged about when she was little. Alyzabeth was just this booze-drinking, sex-giving person now.
When Elle and Alyzabeth had been little they had talked about how stupid people who did drugs were. They talked about how gross cigarettes were and how easy it would be to say no.
It obviously wasn't so easy.
Nothing in life was easy. Sam and Alyzabeth and the rest of the world always said how perfect Elle was. How she was their parents favorite because she was so good. They just decided that being like her was so much easier than being like them.
It wasn't, though. It wasn't even almost easy to be the "good kid". It wasn't easy to make good grades when half the time she wanted to blow her homework off. It wasn't so easy to tell people 'no, she didn't want a cigarette', 'no, she didn't want to go party with them'. Half the time she really wished she'd go, just to see what it was like.
She was a popular kid and very few people disliked her, but she didn't really have any close friends either.
No matter what Sam or Alyzabeth or anyone else said, being good wasn't easy. You sacrificed a lot.
When the vehicle was parked Elle climbed out like a dainty and elegant girl. Which she was. Well, she was when she went to dinner with her parents. Or was around her parents period.
"This restaurant looks nice," Elle commented to her mother. "Have we been here before?"
"No, I don't believe so," Sheridan answered
Elle nodded and followed her parents to a table where there was a couple sitting. She said the proper "hello's" and "glad to see you's", and then was mostly quiet.
During their main course, the man, Dr. Thomas, asked where the other children were.
"Alyzabeth is at work," Drake answered truthfully. "Sam is out, and the boys are at a friends house. Oh, and the baby is at home with a sitter."
"Well, it was so nice that Elle could come along. Jana and I always enjoy seeing her, don't we, Jana?"
The brunette, who had stripes of gray through her hair smiled and agreed, "Of course. Elle really is your charmer."
"We know." Sheridan smiled.
How am I a charmer, Elle wondered. I haven't even done or said anything except for hello.
Elle shrugged it off, like she did everything that didn't always settle right with her or make her happy.
As they were leaving she heard Dr. Thomas say to her father, "Elle is quite the child. Never could get my Gabi under control when she was a teenager."
In the car Elle said to her parents, "Do I have to go to these dinners with you all the time?"
"Danielle," Drake was caught off guard. "Do you not like coming with us?"
"Oh, no. I like coming, of course. I just...nevermind. Forget I ever mentioned it. I shoudn't have ever mentioned it."
"All right, dear." Sheridan tossed her hair over her shoulder.
Elle sighed. It was clearly impossible to talk to them. She loved them, no doubt. Just, she couldn't talk to them.
When Elle got home she took off the black dress and threw it in the dry-cleaning pile. She had just as many dresses as she did normal clothes. That was a lot.
Elle washed all the make-up off her face and brushed her hair out. When she was little she used to love getting dressed up, now it was just a pain.
Elle was asleep the second her head hit the pillow. She was woken up at six thirty by Phoebe's cry. At least she was sleeping through the nights normally.
Elle climbed out of her bed and walked to the nursery. It seemed like unless her parents had some social event they were at work. Now that it was summer, Elle was the one watching Phoebe.
"Hey my sweet baby," Elle whispered softly into her ear.
Phoebe lessened her cry once she was in Elle's arms, but it didn't quit.
"I know, Pheebs. I know." Elle changed her diaper and then took her into the kitchen for breakfast.
She made some baby cereal and fed it to Phoebe, which got her to smile.
When Phoebe was done eating, Elle gave her a bottle and left her in the high chair so she could keep an eye on her, while she made pancakes for her brothers and sister.
It was a quarter 'til eight when she was done, and Bailey was already up.
"Smells good, Elle." He yawned.
Elle smiled and put a plate full in front of him. Then she got the butter and syrup out.
She made sure the oven was off, and then placed the rest of the pancakes in it, so they wouldn't get too cold before the others woke up, which would be only God knew when.
At eleven she left Phoebe with Bailey in the living room watching cartoons and made a small plate of pancakes with peanut-butter and syrup, just like Alyzabeth liked them. Then she got a bottle of water out of the fridge, Tylenol from the cabinet, and a cold washcloth.
She walked upstairs to Alyzabeth's room. She was lying in her bed, awake, trying to go back to sleep, but not being able to do it very well.
"Here, Lyzzi, I got you some food. Some water, too." Elle half-smiled. "Even some Tylenol."
"You are such an angel."
Elle put the food, water, and medicine on the small table next to Alyzabeth's bed, and then handed her the cold washcloth. "For your headache."
Alyzabeth yawned, "Thank you."
Elle left her older sister and went back downstairs to her baby sister and little brother.
The telephone rang the second Elle had Phoebe asleep for her nap.
"Hello?" she answered, picking it up on the first ring so not to wake the baby.
"Is Elle there?"
"This is her," Elle answered, not sure of who it was exactly.
"This is Jesse."
Elle smiled. "Oh, hey."
"I was wondering if you'd like to go to the movies with me tonight?"
"Of course. I'd love to," Elle told him happily.
"Great. Pick you up at 6:30ish?"
"That will work."
"See ya then. Bye."
"Bye." Elle clicked the phone off and held it over her heart. Jesse had finally noticed her. The world was twice over perfect now.
Jesse was sixteen with beautiful chestnut brown curls. He was tall and played football and baseball. He was absolutely gorgeous.
"Who was that?" Sam asked sleepily, walking into the kitchen.
"Oh, no one."
"Where's the food?" Sam asked. He knew Elle always had food ready for him to eat.
"Oven," Elle answered nonchalantly. She looked at the clock on the microwave. It was almost one o'clock.
Good grief! Her brother was just now getting up!
"Hey, Sam, where's Justin?"
"How the hell should I really know? Do I look like his fucking mother to you?"
"Sor-ree," Elle sighed, rolling her eyes. He must have not gotten much sleep.
Elle walked up the stairs to her bedroom. Her dirty laundry was now folded neatly on her bed; clean. Chessie had done the laundry.
Chessie was the live-in type of maid. She was in her mid-50's, and she stayed to herself mostly. She cooked the meals when asked to, she was a very good cook. She kept the house neat, and no one hardly ever saw her actually clean.
Elle put the clothes into her drawers. She looked at all the pictures that covered her walls. That was one thing that always got her and her mother into an argument. Her mother found it absolutely awful that she would cover her pale yellow walls with so many pictures that the wall underneath was no longer visible.
Photography was Elle's one real passion. Her dad bought her a top-of-the-line camera when she was seven and asked for it. Every since then, she'd been taking pictures of everything everywhere.
At that moment there was a soft knock on her bedroom door and then Sam came in. He was now dressed.
"I need to talk to you, Elley. It is so extremely important," Sam told her.
"Okay." Elle gave him a funny look and then sat on her bed. He sat next to her.
"You can't tell anyone this, okay? Especially Mom and Dad. They cannot know. Not until Lish and I have this all figured out."
"Alright. I'll say nothing to anyone," Elle promised.
"Good. That's my little sister. Alicia is pregnant."
Elle's eyes grew huge. "What?" That was not what she was expecting at all. Not Alicia. The only good thing Sam really had going for him. Alicia was smart and beautiful, even had Sam slightly cleaning up his act. Because of her he was going to college in the fall. "How far along is she?"
"Seven months," Sam answered.
"Seven? But someone would have-" Elle stopped. She hadn't seen Alicia for about three months. And then she had thought Alicia wasn't looking too well. But pregnant?
"We didn't even figure it out until she was five months along."
"Sam, she had to have noticed she wasn't having her period."
"Her's is always haywire. She didn't think much about it. Dammit, we used protection. We were always so careful."
"Her parents suspect it, but she covers it well. Besides, she is this far along and unless you know how skinny she really is, you'd hardly notice."
"Wow. I wasn't expecting this, Sam. What are you guys going to do?"
"I don't know." Sam placed his head in his hands. "Fuck. I am going to be eighteen tomorrow. How the hell am I supposed to be a dad?"
Elle licked her lips. "Well, if it is any consolation, you're great with kids. If you stop the drugs--pot--you'll be okay, I think. Try to get in more hours at work, and make sure you and Alicia both still go to college. I'm sure Mom and Dad will help you guys out, you can stay here I bet..."
"I always thought Lish and I would be together. Have a family someday. But not now. God not now. I have been a big enough burden on Mom and Dad. They are not helping. We're going to do this on our own. We have to."
"Well, Sam, I'll help. I'll do whatever I can to help."
Sam looked at his sister. "I don't know what I would do without you, Elley. You and Lish, you two keep me in line." Sam hugged her. "Thank you."
Elle smiled. "Anytime. Just tell me what you need and want at anytime, and you've got it."
Sam nodded and walked out.
Okay, so Sam wasn't nearly as bad as Alyzabeth. Ever since him and Alicia had begun dating, over a year and half ago, she had made him clean up his act a lot.
Why exactly Sam had told her all this, she wasn't sure. But she was indeed quite glad that her brother trusted her over everyone else. After all, he told her, not their parents.
Later that evening her father came home unusually early.
"Elle, I have a very important dinner tonight. I would like for you to come with me," Drake told her as he kicked his shoes off.
"But I can't." Elle sat Phoebe on a blanket in the living room and followed her father upstairs to his bedroom.
"What do you mean you can't?"
"I have a date. Actually, he'll be here any minute," Elle answered.
"And what about Phoebe? Were you going to just leave her here?"
"I called Mariah. She said she could stay with her for an hour or two. Until Mom gets home."
"Well, your mother has to pull a late shift."
"Then you have to take Phoebe. Mariah has a life, you know."
Drake sighed heavily and looked at his daughter. "You're much too young to date. The last thing I need is for you to turn out like Alyzabeth. Get dressed. You are coming with me."
At that moment thunder boomed and Elle flinched. "I am not going, Dad. Can't I have a life of my own sometimes? I do everything you and Mom want me to. Is it such a big deal that for one night I am just going to be a normal fifteen-year-old going to the movies with a guy? Afterwards I will be your perfect daughter."
Drake put on his tie. "Yes, it is a lot to ask. You have the odds playing very heavily against you. Look at your brother! Your damn sister! Hell, look at your mother!"
Elle said nothing. She knew nothing about her mother. She hadn't seen her since she was seven, and she didn't imparticularly care to know anything about her.
"Well, if you think I am going to turn out like them, then so it be! At least I will have lived a little on my own. I am so sick and tired of doing everything you want me to do. I'm done! I'm done being good, okay?" Elle heard a car honk outside, she knew it was Jesse. "I'm leaving for my date. Call Mariah and tell her you are taking Phoebe with you. Have fun at your stupid party. Good-bye!"
Elle stormed down the stairs, she heard her father yell her name once, but she didn't turn around and he didn't try to stop her. She ran to Jesse's car, trying to sheild her hair from the rain with her arms.
"Hey," Jesse said to her when she climbed into his car.
Elle smiled. "Hi."
"It wasn't supposed to rain tonight. That really sucks."
"Mmhmm," she agreed.
Elle sat quietly the rest of the drive. When they were in the theatre Jesse found them a seat near the back.
They watched some action packed movie. Elle found it quite gorey. Her cell phone vibrated at one point, but she ignored it. It vibrated again, and even though it wasn't making any noise, she turned it off.
Jesse went to put his soda down, but instead, it slipped and fell all over the two of them.
"Oh, shit! I am so sorry," Jesse apologized, picking the cup up quickly.
"It's no big deal," Elle assured him, ignoring the fact that her khaki's were brand new.
"I'll be right back." Jesse got up and left and quickly returned with a wad of brown paper towels from the bathroom. He helped her wipe her pants off. "I am really sorry about that."
"Don't sweat it. It's no big deal."
"Are you sure?"
Elle smiled. He was so sweet. "I'm sure."
Jesse let out a small sigh of relief. "That's good."
When Jesse pulled in front of her house, Elle's heart instantly sank. There was a cop car in the drive way, and her mother's car.
Oh, no. Who was in trouble? Sam? No, she figured it was probably Alyzabeth. What she had done though, Elle couldn't imagine. Whatever it was, Sheridan's frustration would probably end up being taken out on Elle. Great.
"I am not too sure. Guess I'll find out soon enough." Elle leaned over and kissed Jesse on the cheek, but before she could get too far away, he pulled her back for a real kiss. Elle smiled. "See ya later."
She climbed out of the car and walked through the now light rain to the side door of her house. Two police officers came out as she went in. One nodded his head at her so sympathetically is made her squirm. She walked into the kitchen and kicked her shoes off.
There were no lights on in the kitchen. She flipped one on and saw an envelope on the bar with her name on it. She picked it up. It was her dad's handwriting. She opened it and read the letter inside.
Now that I have had a few minutes to think, I owe you an apology. I do trust you more than Sam or Alyzabeth, and you wouldn't do anything I would not want you to. I know that. I should give you more credit and let you be more of a child. That is all you are. Just my little girl. Your mother and I always expect so much from you and that isn't really fair. I promise that from now on I will let you do more of what you want. You don't have to come to all the dinners with Sheridan and me. I love you, Danielle. You are one of the most important people to me and I don't know what I would ever do without you. I love you.
Elle licked her lips. She felt bad now. she had given him such shit. He didn't deserve that. Not from her especially. She folded the letter back into the envelope and slipped it into her pocket. She walked out of the kitchen and noticed the light and noises coming from the living room.
Sheridan was sitting on the couch; Bailey was hugging her as she petted his hair. Alyzabeth was curled up in a ball in the big arm chair, and Sam and Justin were sitting next to each other on the sofa. Alyzabeth, Sheridan, and Bailey were all sobbing quite loudly. Sam and Justin had tearstains, but were not crying. Just sitting and looking very somber.
Sheridan looked up when Elle entered, but she said nothing.
Elle studied their faces, her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach. Sam got up from the couch and walked to her. He stood in front of her and looked white as a ghost. "Elley, there was an accident."
Elle felt her knees go weak, the next thing she knew Sam was carrying her to the couch with him and she was sitting on his lap crying.
She wasn't sure when exactly in the blur of the night she was actually told that her father and baby sister were killed in a car accident, but it really didn't matter. She had known the second she walked into the living room.
Suddenly everything she ever knew in life was gone. Her strong, handsome father who had saved so many peoples lives, yet his own hadn't been spared. Her precious blonde-haired baby sister. She never even got to celebrate her first
birthday. Elle wanted her back.
Elle wanted everyone back. She wanted to go back in time and tell her father she loved him. Not just run out on him. He must have died thinking she hated him. She was never going to be able to change that. She was never going to get to tell him she loved him and she was so sorry.
He was never even going to know he was an almost-grandpa.
There was so much he was never going to know. But what about Phoebe? She wasn't even supposed to be in that car. If Elle hadn't insisted he take her, she at least would have been safe at home. It was all her fault.
At some point that night, she fell asleep in Sam's arm on the couch.
Elle stayed behind after everyone else had walked away. She'd fiercely pushed Sam away. Once she left this coffin, she was leaving her whole life behind.
In such a few short days since her father and sister died her life was turned upside down more than she could have ever imagined.
Without her father, she couldn't stay in that beautiful house with her beautiful clothes and her beautiful siblings and her beautiful life. Without him, her biological mother was the one with custody of her.
She had begged Sheridan to fight for her, but Sheridan had sadly told her no. Sheridan wanted her to stay, but without Drake, she found herself questioning if it was ever right to have kept Elle from her real mother.
Elle had seen Kennedy Gylendhall in the back at the funeral, she stuck out with the same bright auburn hair as Elle. But Elle had avoided her at all cost. Although she hadn't said anything to the woman, nor the woman to her, she knew that she was indeed her mother.
Elle dreaded leaving behind everything she knew. She was fifteen-years-old, she didn't want to start all over with some stranger she hadn't seen since she was seven and could barely remember anyways.
She knew that once she got into the car with Sam and Alicia and went back to the home in which she had spent all the fifteen years of her life, she would see her. She would have to talk to her. She would have to eventually leave with her. And she didn't want to do any of it.
She played with the white rose in her hand. Everyone had thrown red roses onto her father and sister's grave. She had placed a white one so carefully onto the tiny coffin. White roses were her favorite. Once she put the last rose down, Alicia would help Sam usher her away, because it was "the best for her".
Elle licked her lips and looked up, keeping the tears from rolling down her cheeks. She wasn't going to cry. She was done crying.
"I love you," Elle whispered, so softly that she could barely hear herself, "I will always love you, and I am so sorry. More sorry than you can ever imagine. I didn't mean to yell..." Sam wrapped his arms around her, and she wanted to push him off and tell him to leave her alone, but she simpily couldn't find the words or the strength.
In the car Elle finally whispered to Sam, "I don't want to go home."
"Why not?" Sam asked.
"I don't want to see her. I don't want to live with her, Sam. I just don't want..." But her voice trailed off, she was once again overcomed by her tears.
Sam looked in the rearview mirror at his sister, and his heart broke for her. He'd done a lot of stupid things in his life. Elle was a better person than him a million times over, and if anyone deserved to be taken away from all they had ever known in life, it would be him. Not her.
Alicia turned around to look at Elle. "I
promise that me and Sam will come visit you. It's only a five hour drive. We'll come whenever we can. And when we have the baby," Alicia ran her hand over her plump stomach, "we'll bring him to see you, too."
Elle shook her head. "It's not the same."
"Elley," Sam sighed. "We have no control over what happened or what is happening, but if anyone can make the best out of this situation, it's you. And you've got it the hardest. I mean look at me, I'm a fucking screw up, and here I am, still getting everything I need and want without Dad. You get nothing without him. I don't mean for it to sound bad, I was-"
"I get what you're saying," Elle assured him. She laid her head against the seat the rest of the drive home.
Home. Well, it wasn't going to be her home much longer.
"Let me help you," Sam said as he opened Elle's door and grabbed her arm.
"I'm fine," Elle told him.
"I said I'm fine." Elle pulled herself out of his grasp and walked towards her house. She kicked her shoes off in the kitchen and ignored all the herds of people swarming her house and trying to make conversation. She went upstairs to her bedroom and shut her door rather hard, but not really on purpose.
She began to take all the pictures off her walls. After a few minutes a chunk of her yellow wall was visible.
She grabbed an empty shoe box from her closet and started to put the pictures from her walls into it. If she was going to be forced out of her home, she was taking all the memories with her.
The pictures covering her walls were nothing compared to what she had in photo albums and scrapbooks, though. Over thirty to be accounted for.
There was a knock on her door, and feeling rather angry she said, "Go away!"
A very unfamiliar voice said, "May I please come in?"
Elle took a deep breathe and knew who it was, even though she didn't know the voice. It was Kennedy. Her biological mother. Elle quickly locked her door so that the lady couldn't just barge in. "Go away," she repeated.
"Open the door right now, Elle." It was Alyzabeth.
"Go away, Alyzabeth," Elle demanded.
"Open the door and talk to this lady. She's not that bad anyways. Stop being such an insensitive brat and talk to your mother. You're going to have to leave with her anyway."
I'm being insensitive? Elle thought, And a brat? Look who's talking.
"I mean it." Alyzabeth banged on her door.
"Oh, fine!" Elle unlocked the door and threw it open.
Before she could move to the other side of the room Alyzabeth caught her arm. "Lose the attitude, Elle. Life sucks. Deal with it." Alyzabeth took a deep breath and gave Elle a quick hug, then went down the hallway to her own bedroom.
Kennedy stood in the doorway. "Hello."
"Hello." Elle went back to pulling pictures off the walls.
"I guess you already know who I am," Kennedy said to her.
"I can take a wild guess that you happen to be the woman who gave birth to me."
"If that is how you want to put it. Then yes."
"That is the only way to put it," Elle informed her.
Kennedy took a deep breath and then placed her hand on Elle's arm. "Can I please talk to you?"
"Why? I have nothing to say to you. And I really don't want to hear what you have to say."
"Sheridan told me you were more agreeable than this. The good kid. I believe she actually said 'the perfect child'."
"There is no such thing as a perfect child, Kennedy." Elle turned around to face her. "I'm sorry. This is just really sudden, okay? And I don't even know you. Don't get me wrong, I know you're biologically my mother, but I haven't seen you since I was seven and I don't remember you anyhow."
"I understand," Kennedy sighed. "I understand."
Elle put a lid on the shoe box,. There was still three more walls to go. "It'll take me a while to pack. Mom said she'd ship everything I didn't bring with me today..." Elle lingered on a photograph of her dad. "...I don't want to leave anything important behind."
"Would you like any help?" Kennedy offered.
"No. This is just really awkward, ya know?"
Kennedy nodded. "I'll be downstairs. Take your time."
Elle sighed deeply after Kennedy left. She walked down the hall and got two large suitcases out of the hall closet. She was capable of fitting almost a quarter of her clothes into the two suitcases. She went and got two more suitcases. She knew it was pointless to try and pack all of her clothes, so she filled one suitcase up with all her photo albums and the pictures from her walls. The other she put CD's and home videos into. She almost put her camera and cam corder in it, but decided that they were safer with her in just her camera bag. She threw all of her beauty and hair necessities into the suitcase as well as her jewelry.
She grabbed the photo album she had completed a few days previously and hurried down the hall
to Sam's room.
"This is for you," Elle told him as she handed him the photo album. "It's for your birthday. It kind of got forgotten and mixed up in all of this, and I know I missed it, but I had this ready before hand."
"Anytime. Wow. You're an adult now. For a while I thought you'd never make it," Elle told him.
"Hey!" Sam said, making her smile, "There's that smile you always have going. It's a pretty lonely world without it."
"You are so dramatic. You should make good of that talent and be an actor."
"Just think, in less than two weeks, you won't be a baby anymore."
"It'll be your happy 16th."
All the kids, except for Pheobe and Justin who had fall birthdays, had June/July birthdays.
"Then Lyzzi will be seventeen and Bai will be thirteen," Elle licked her lips as they began to quiver. "I don't want to leave, Sam."
"You can't cry, Elley. That's not who you are. Until Dad and Phoebe...well, I hadn't seen you cry since you were seven and Kennedy left to go home that last time."
"I cried?" Elle asked. She was seven, surely she should remember something.
"Yes. A lot, too. You did love her, Elle. She was always very good to you when she saw you."
"Then why did she neve come back, Sam? I just don't understand. Dad talked about her like she was a plague and...why didn't she come back?"
"I don't know. I was only nine. I don't know. But give her a chance, okay? She's a good person. She always sent you Christmas and birthday cards."
Elle rolled her eyes. "So did Grandma Ida until she conked out."
Sam chuckled. Why it was easier for her to deal with her crazy grandmother's death than her fathers and sisters, he wasn't sure. It all hurt the same to him.
"Well, just to forwarn you. There are a lot of secrets out there that you'll find out eventually. I probably don't know them all, but I'm not at liberty to tell you either. Just keep your eyes pealed and your ears opened. You're a strong kid and you'll be fine."
Elle looked at him very confused. "What do you mean?"
Sam shook his head. "I'll help you carry your luggage to Kennedy's car." Sam got up and followed the confused girl to her bedroom. He grabbed her two heaviest suitcases as he recruited the passing Justin, who reluctantly agreed to carry a bag. Elle grabbed the other and they left them in the kitchen as the three of them went into the living room where Sheridan, Bailey, Alicia, Kennedy, and Alyzabeth were.
Elle licked her lips and hesitantly told Kennedy she was ready. Then Alyzabeth began to cry which threw Elle totally off guard. Sure Lyzzi cried lots, but never over her.
Alyzabeth threw her arms around Elle and hugged her fiercely. "I am going to miss you. I am going to miss you so much," she cried into Elle's hair.
"I'll miss you, too." Elle didn't cry though.
Once Alyzabeth let go of her Bailey gave her a hug as well. "I wish you didn't have to go. You're the only normal one in this house."
Elle giggled. "Nah, none of us are normal. Just be good, okay? Promise me you won't-" Elle lowered her voice to a faint whisper- "turn out like Alyzabeth, Justin, or even Sam."
Bailey nodded. "I promise."
Sam turned around. "I'm going to take the bags outside to Kennedy's car." Sam hurried out of the room.
Alicia came next. "Sam and I will come and see you whenever we can. You be good."
Justin bit his lip and then rolled his eyes. He gave his sister a hug. "Have fun. Don't forget us." Justin left the living room.
Alicia's eyebrows went up, but she said nothing.
"Well," Sheridan wiped her constant tears, "don't give her any trouble. Be the little darling you are." She took a deep breath and placed a small necklace into Elle's hand. "You're father was going to give it to you for your birthday. It was his mother's. I figured you still deserved it."
"It's beautiful," Elle whispered as she saw Kennedy go outside.
"You will be missed. I love you."
"I love you, too, Mom."
"I think Kennedy would like to hear you call her mom. Well, you better get going. No need to keep her waiting," Sheridan told her.
Elle nodded and went outside. She never looked back.
Sam was standing by the red car and Kennedy was already inside. Sam took his hand out of his pocket and wrapped her into a tight hug, taking her feet off the ground. "You make the best of this. I know you can. You are a blessing from God, and no matter how mushy that may sound, it's true, Elley. I love you so much."
"I love you, too."
"Now, get in that car and show the town of Hansen what you're made of."
Elle smiled. "I will."
Elle climbed into the car, put her seat belt on, and this time, she watched Sam standing in the yard until she was too far away to see him.
For the first hour or so they sat in complete silence. They were both thinking of what was going on. It isn't everyday a mother gets reunited with her daughter who doesn't remember her and just takes her home the day of.
"Why didn't you ever come back and see me?" Elle hadn't meant to say the words out loud, but now that she had, she couldn't take them back.
Kennedy scrunched up her forhead and thought for a moment. "Well, it had been agreed that it was the best thing for you."
Elle shook her head. "No, really. You can tell me the truth. I might be young, but I am not stupid. Trust me, I can handle whatever the reason is."
"Telling people you had two mothers gave Drake and Sheridan a bad image. The least people who knew about you not really being theirs the better off they were. I was young and naive and they twisted it around so I believed I wasn't doing you any good by being there. And if you want the truth, I believe it was more of Sheridan's doing than your fathers."
"Didn't you miss me?" Elle asked her.
"Of course I did. Of course. Your dad sent me pictures, though. Letters. I tried to send you letters, but they were always returned to me. I was only allowed to send you birthday and Christmas cards."
"They weren't in control of you, you know."
"When you have two people telling you that the best thing for your only child is you not being there, it is hard to be there. And even if I had wanted to get you back, but for clarity's sake I would have never ever done that to your father anyhow, they had more money, better lawyers. I was just the girl at the diner."
"Is that how you and my dad...um...met?"
"No, not exactly. His good friend all through high school and college was my much older brother. I was the baby of the family and I had known him for a good chunk of my life."
"Oh." Elle licked her lips and then scrubbed her hands over her face. "How old were you when you had me anyway?"
"So, you're young? Well, thirty-five? Since I'm almost sixteen."
"Yes," Kennedy answered.
Elle nodded and rested her head on the back of the seat. Her dad had always told her not to do that. She should always sit and stand straight and tall with perfect posture, or else she would be doomed with cramps, cinks, and a curved body for the rest of her life. Elle didn't really care if she got cinks. She was tired and bored.
It was dark by the time they reached Kennedy's house. Elle had fallen asleep, but was wide awake when Kennedy had gently woken her.
Elle looked at the small, one-story, white house, and kept her dissapointment to herself. The house was so small! It was absoloutely crazy for Sheridan to have ever let her come here.
Elle grabbed the two suitcases Kennedy didn't and followed her into the house. Kennedy led her to a small room. "This is your room. It's not much compared to what you had with Drake and Sheridan, but it should do. If you need anything just hollar. I'm going to crash, I have to work tomorrow morning. 'Night."
Very confused, Elle told her goodnight and began to unpack her clothes into the dresser and closet. The closet was tiny and Elle wanted to laugh.
The whole room was tiny and completely ridiculous. No one should have to live in something that small. Especially not her. Then it occured to her that she didn't even know what Kennedy did for a living.
She slipped out of the little room into the small hall she had come down and noticed the bathroom next to her room. She walked in and found it quite peaceful and happy. It had lavendar walls and a white and lavendar tiled floor. The towels were lavedar as well as the toothbrush holder and soap dish.
Elle quickly washed her face and brushed her teeth and then hurried back to her bedroom.
Funny. Her bedroom. It wasn't her bedroom. Her bedroom was big with yellow walls that were never visible. She had a huge walk-in closet and shelves full of photo albums. She had a big TV with a VCR and DVD player as well as her own Playstation 2 that she didn't play with much. Her laptop--shit, she had forgotten that--sat on a cherry desk that matched her cherry dresser and vanity.
She rolled her eyes and told herself to stop. She picked up a photo album and flipped through it. She went through a few others and then accidently spilled her suitcase onto the floor.
Oh, well, she thought, Chessie would pick them up in the morning. Then she laughed at herself. No, Chessie wouldn't pick them up. There was no maid here.
She changed into her pajamas and left the rest of the unpacking for tomorrow, as well as the albums on the floor. She was tired. She climbed into the small twin-sized bed. It was pathetic to her beautiful queen-sized bed at home...well, it wasn't her home anymore.
Elle closed her eyes and forced herself to forget about it and just be happy. Life was going to go on, she had to keep up.
SEE "THE GOOD KID--CHAPTER THREE & FOUR" FOR MORE